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HIT FROM BEHIND
If you haven't seen Patrice Bergeron being pasted to the end boards then carted off the ice on a stretcher during the Bruins-Flyers game, YouTube it. (They are an NHL "New Media" partner). Its violent, and cautionary -- yet not despicable, or shocking for that matter.
I'll explain why.
When the league altered the enforcement of rules pertaining to hooking and holding, they eliminated what was known as the "hold up" (no, not the bank robbery hold up, the slow down the hard charging 240 pounder "hold up".) When this "cleaning up of the game" was implemented many observers and players applauded it, but some, like myself, foresaw a potential for carnage. The thought was; without holdups we were going to see, from time to time, the horrifying side of the law of physics at play.
That law is f = ma -- (force equals mass times acceleration). In an NHL that now employs quarter-ton forwards that skate like Eric Heiden, that physics equation can lead to ambulatory care.
Back when a player was allowed to tug on the opposition or grab on with an arm when in pursuit of a loose puck those very actions acted as both a parachute and, maybe more importantly, a warning sign that contact was imminent. Now when a player goes in toward the boards after a loose puck he goes there unfettered (un-warned) and with expectations that the rules will protect him.
So, what to do about all this?
Going forward the choices appear clear:
Start handing out 40 game suspensions for overzealous hits of this nature.
Send a memo to every member of the NHLPA and PHPA stating that personal safety is "a player issue" and implore them to "police themselves".
Remove body contact from the game altogether.
Or "Option #4" -- re-instate "The Hold Up" (I personally prefer "Subtle Momentary Stride Disruption")
Good luck picking a path forward NHL...In the meantime, get well Patrice!